Top 12 Smartest Dog Breeds. What Makes Them Smart (Or Not)?

One of the most comprehensive research on dog’s intelligence in an attempt to identify the smartest dog breed was done by psychologist Stanley Coren. He surveyed almost 200 dog-obedience judges in an attempt to figure out the smartest dog breed. And summarized the outcome in his book  The Intelligence of Dogs. He defined the dog’s intelligence as a combined score for obedience, instincts, and capacity to adapt. And his work became a cornerstone of all the smartest dogs ratings. 

So let’s dive right into it. 

Do you have a specific question about the subject? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

Golden Retriever 

The breed was intended to be used for hunting. As the name suggests, these dogs have been bred to be excellent in fetching items for their owners, which may come handy while you’re going after ducks or rabbits in a thick forest. It’s also one of the most beloved family pets in the United States. Goldens take their jobs to heart and try to be the best they can do. It doesn’t matter if it’s hunting, acting as a service dog or a part of search-and-rescue operations, or just being a caring companion. And they are amongst the most trainable dogs in the world. 

Poodle

If you ever asked yourself: “are Poodles smart?” you were right – there’s a lot of things to consider to answer the question. Initially, this breed emerged as a hunting dog. And then evolved to be a faithful worker and a trusty companion. And if you’re a circus fan, you might recall that back in the day, Poodles was used as a performer quite often. And it could have been expected since this breed is among the brightest of all, perfect smart family dogs.

Border Collie 

Originally bred as a sheepdog, Border Collies can do just about any work you can do. You’re likely to find a border collie who’s trying to figure out a question even when no one’s around to motivate and reward these actions.

This breed is the world’s leading sheepherder, border collie intelligence is widely admired, along with its exceptional instincts, and ability to work hard.

Doberman Pinscher

Smart and trustworthy, Dobermans were initially bred to be guard dogs with an exceptional sense of smell (along with an intimidating appearance!). In addition to strength, agility, and pace, Doberman pinschers have the smarts they need to keep training to be an on-demand police dog or a fighting dog.

Labrador Retriever

Labradors are energetic dogs that were specifically bred to catch fishing nets and, as such, have webbed legs and powerful necks. These dogs are super sweet, which makes them great dogs for therapy, emotional support, and in the care of the blind or disabled.

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Shetland Sheepdog 

It’s a long-haired working breed that is extremely intelligent and excellent in herding. Many of these dogs enjoy a mental challenge and thrive while taking over different activities. Shelties are also quite skilled at reading people and can immediately understand the action that is expected of them.

Rottweiler

The Rottweiler was originally bred in Rottweil, Germany, where the dog was designed for herds of livestock and carts that transported the goods to the markets. Today it is still regarded to be one of the best dogs in the world. The Rottweiler is a faithful, caring, trustworthy guard dog who wants to work.  

That’s why it’s quite typical to see them thrive as a service dog, a police dog, a therapy dog, etc.

 Papillon

The Papillon is called for the form of their ears, which looks like a butterfly. The Papillon is only one of two smart small dog breeds that fall into the world’s top brightest category. Though they’re good lap dogs, their intellect makes them an excellent companion to play too. Papillons are not timid or aggressive, and they are particularly fast and flexible little pups that can be taught to do all kinds of tricks.

German Shepherd 

The world’s top police, patrol, and military dog — and a wonderful family friend and herder. German Shepherds excel when they have given an important job to do. At the same time, they’re among the kindest, smart, and loyal dogs you’re going to encounter.

Australian Cattle Dog

This breed, also known as Blue Heeler, is also smart and very strong. 

This dog has been bred to the herd of cattle and is the happiest with a work to do. But if you don’t keep them busy with productive things, they might be a little destructive. 

Other than that, they’re friendly, good-natured, and they seem to get along pretty well with kids.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

This breed had some notoriety because it was a “royal” dog. Queen Elizabeth II has been the master of corgis for decades. While these dogs are not getting into the brightest dogs ever identified, they are still the most super smart and incredibly sensitive. Such pets can understand new commands after 5-15 repetitions and follow the first command at more than 85 percent of all occasions, along with the next participant in this ranking.

Miniature Schnauzer

These dogs are great fans of good competition. Both love running and learning new tricks, making them ideal for involved families and obedience training. The Miniature Schnauzer is a lively, cheerful companion, little enough to adjust to the life of the small apartment, but tenacious enough to monitor acres of farmland.

Smartest dog breeds. FAQ 

How smart are dogs?

Dogs are as smart as the regular two-year-old child, according to studies by animal psychologists. Researchers found that dogs are capable of recognizing up to 250 words and actions, can count up to five, and can make basic calculations. One Border Collie named Chaser learned over 1,000 words.

Can dogs be as smart as humans? 

Dogs are very clearly different from us genetically. Still, socially, they’re more like us than some of our closest primate relatives. For example, some behavioral studies have shown that dogs are the only domesticated species that interact with their humans the same way that babies interact with their parents. Yes, there are still no super dogs that will enslave humanity (just like they showed us in one of the episodes of “Rick and Morty”). But canines should get more credits for their intelligence. 

Do dogs have an IQ?

“IQ” also depends on the quality you experience. Within Coren’s book, you can have your dog take an IQ test that he developed on the basis of his research. But there are so many other characteristics that you might want to test when obtaining the dog’s “smarts.”

What are some of the most intelligent things dogs do? 

Dogs have been known to learn a hundred (and even thousands) of words, do arithmetic. Dogs can read people and often do it better than chimps. Dogs can be better than 3-to-4-year-old toddlers at figuring out how to ignore wrong instructions.

What are the top 10 smartest dog breeds?

If to use Coren’s work as a standard for defining the smartest breeds the list is the following: 

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd Dog
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

Which dog breed is the dumbest?

Using the same most comprehensive dog intelligence research Stanley Coren established that the least intelligent breed is Afgan Hound. 

Rather than expecting your Afghan Hound to follow instructions, accept them for what they are. Those dogs have the lowest degree of obedience and follow the command after one repetition only in 25% cases or even less. And it takes between 80 to 100 tries for them to learn a new skill. 

Credits: thanks for the cover photo to Canva.

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